Monmouth County’s First Criminal Jury Trial Since Easing of COVID Restrictions

 FREEHOLD –   A Keansburg man was found guilty of Aggravated Assault By Strangulation in what was the first criminal jury trial in Monmouth County since trials were suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

On Tuesday June 22, 2021, Jaself Brown, 35, of Keansburg, was found guilty of Aggravated Assault by Strangulation of a Victim of Domestic Violence. Brown was found guilty after a five-day trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. LeMieux.

On October 18, 2019, the victim, who was Brown’s fiancée and mother of his son, was dropping defendant off at the home of Brown’s mother on Sewell Avenue in Asbury Park.  While in the car, Brown and the victim became embroiled in a verbal argument which became heated. Brown then moved to the driver’s side door of the vehicle and strangled the victim while she was sitting in the driver’s seat.  As other family members intervened to stop the assault, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Officer David Lasko, who was on patrol in the area, responded to the scene.

Officer Lasko grabbed the defendant, who refused the officer’s commands to release the victim’s neck.  The officer radioed for assistance as he struggled with defendant.  Thanks to Officer Lasko’s efforts, the victim managed to break free of Brown and escape the vehicle through the passenger-side door.  The defendant continued to struggle with the officer and eventually dove out the passenger-side door of the vehicle with the officer in tow.

Once outside the vehicle, Officer Lasko, with assistance from Asbury Park Officer Robert Champoullion and other Asbury Park officers, managed to place the defendant under arrest.  Officer Lasko suffered minor injuries in the struggle and responded to Jersey Shore Medical Center for treatment, while Officer Michael Treadway of the Asbury Park Police Department completed the investigation.

Following his arrest, Brown was ordered detained in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution pending trial due to, among other factors, his continuing threat to the victim, as well as the fact that he was already on probation following a prior criminal conviction.  Prior to trial, defendant pled guilty to violating his probation.

Brown is scheduled to appear before Judge Lemieux on August 13, 2021 for sentencing on the Aggravated Assault By Strangulation offense as well as his violation of probation.  Due to his criminal record, Brown faces up to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison for this crime.

This was the first criminal jury trial conducted in Monmouth County since October of 2020. To enhance the safety of the jurors, prior to entry into the courthouse all witnesses and litigants were required to confirm that they were not COVID symptomatic or recently exposed to COVID.  Juror seating in the courtroom was socially distanced, and all jurors were provided masks by the court to wear while in the courthouse.  Plexiglass partitions were also installed between the jury and the courtroom.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Competello.

Brown is represented by George Somers, Esq., of Princeton

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